Tobias Carroll writes fiction and nonfiction. He's the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn, and his work has recently appeared in Tin House, Midnight Breakfast, The Collapsar, The Collagist, Joyland, Necessary Fiction, and Underwater New York. His collection TRANSITORY will be released by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016.
Sound Kapital never quite settles into a comfortable pattern of pop. The first 15 seconds of opener “When I Get Back” feature slightly distorted vocals over a skeletal beat. Though it eventually settles into a more established dancefloor configuration, those first moments are intentionally jarring, the lines “When I get back home / I won’t be the same no more” serving as the album’s thesis statement.
These are songs designed to be played in an archetypal car with its windows down, engine floored as it heads down the interstate. On the other hand, there’s a blissful quality — less psychedelic and more coming from the ambient/drone side of things. It’s not dissimilar to the devastatingly subtle boundary-ebbings practiced by the likes of Marissa Nadler and Sharon Van Etten.
Unlike The Dead Texan, which flirted very loosely (and effectively) with pop structures, the seven pieces here are more impressionistic; while there are structures in place, the overall effect is one of contrasts, of quieter sections giving way to the presence of a host of instruments.
What I do still find giving me pause, though, are Lortz’s feelings about his current work relative to his past work. On the one hand, I can’t think of many artists in any discipline who’d make the case that their latest work isn’t their best. But I also find myself conflicted about my love of his previous work and whether it can coexist with my admiration of his present work. For now, I’m still listening; still working it all out.
I’ve had some stories appear in both their print and online spaces, and they also appear here; there’s also work from smart folks like Joe Meno, Patrick Somerville, Al Burian, Anne Elizabeth Moore, Jonathan Messinger, Susannah Felts, Jamie Iredell, Kate Duva, and more.
(As always, giant thanks are due to editors Todd Dills and C.T. Ballentine, who are fine people to boot.)
If you’re so inclined, you can purchase the book here.
Most mornings, I stop in to Long Island City’s Sweetleaf before work for a cup of coffee and a scone. Sweetleaf does a fine job of baking scones that achieve a good sweet/savory balance; this weekend, I decided to give something similar a shot.
To make these, I followed the basic scone recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I added a tablespoon of chipotle pepper, half a cup of sliced almonds, about a cup of queso fresco, and a teaspoon and change of Mexican vanilla. The result was lighter than expected and just spicy enough, with the cheese fairly blended in but still tempering the chipotle.
Last week, I contributed an essay to the excellent “Write Place, Write Time” series of, well, short essays about where writers do their thing.
I’m going to need to sketch out a shared history for the three primary main characters — including former bandmates, families, classmates — as well as a small town near the Pennsylvania border in northwestern New Jersey. I keep a Moleskin notebook around, but more recently I picked up a half-dozen Field Notes notebooks so that I could keep things project-specific.
I’ll be making my way to Western Pennsylvania tomorrow, boarding a bus at 6:50 in the morning, reading material in tow, bound for Pittsburgh (and elsewhere). Returning to New York come Monday night, hopefully with many a story to tell.
The fine people at Storychord have published my short story “Winter Montage, Hoboken Station.” You can read it here.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Transit always reminds me of transit. The light rail that runs along the Hudson calls back every trip I’ve ever taken to the Twin Cities — if the cars used on each line aren’t the same make, they have to be siblings or kissing cousins or flat-out doppelgängers. Minneapolis makes me think of winter, makes me think of long walks through the same snowbanks that petrify my clients out here. I spent four years there, punctuated by repetition: every six to eight weeks, I would take the light rail from riverside neighborhoods to the airport, would step out into the airport’s cavernous station, and would take flight. I almost always returned at night, and sitting at that station, half a dozen standing in random concentrations along the platform, might as well have been heraldry for that time in my life.
More on how this story came to be will appear in this space before long.
On the one hand, The Avian Gospels meets many of the criteria of dystopian science fiction: an ambiguous and shattered city, ruled by a dictator; the involvement of the paranormal – here, the ability of a father and son to psychically control the flocks of birds that have gathered around said city. (At times, The Avian Gospels would make an interesting double bill with Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking books.) At the same time, Novy sprinkles references throughout the novel that suggest a more self-aware level beyond the revolutions, denunciations, and abuses on display. There are specific references to the unlikely trifecta of James Ellroy, William Faulkner, and Oulipo; more generally, some of Novy’s use of specific words seems intentionally disjointed, recalling the rewritten syntax of Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String.
A while ago, I took part in a day-long at-home writing session to benefit Dzanc Books. The story that began its life then — a riff on Brooklyn winters, isolation, and the notion of “fake jazz” — ended up becoming something called “An Apolitical Song.” And now the fine people at Metazen have chosen to publish it. Here’s an excerpt:
My current state: false starts and lyrics sitting half-written in notebooks. Seated at a table looking at fresh-made coffee. Watching steam ascend into late-morning light and thinking it looks like nothing more than smoke rising from a newly kindled fire. All I want to do is collapse around the phrase fake jazz, half-obsessed after a late-night remembrance of a long-ago late-night ramble about John Lurie. Thinking: I’m going to call this my fake fake jazz band, thinking that might blow minds, thinking that’ll leave holes in the world and realign things, wanting to see how people react, wanting to hear them run the combinations through their heads, wanting to see what their eyes do when they think. My fake fake jazz band.
So: I spent my Sunday afternoon at the Astor Center, taking a class as part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. This was my first time attending, and I didn’t entirely know what to expect: would it simply be an overview of cocktail-related lore, or something more hands-on?
The event I attended was — as the photograph above suggests — a look at assorted bars and clubs across nearly seventy years of film. Nora Maynard covered a series of films, ranging from Laura to Almost Famous, with four cocktails to be consumed over the course of the afternoon. (Two came pre-made; two were assembled in the space.) It was a very enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes, and it reminded me that I really, really need to watch Hannah and Her Sisters.
After the course, we headed into the main space, in which assorted spirits companies had bars set up at which cocktails could be made. It was there that I tried the drink pictured below, made with vodka, grapefruit and lemon juice, and topped with freshly-ground salt and pepper. Which was not something I’d have previously thought to put into a drink, but which worked remarkably well.